When people talk about the role of gender in the blogosphere, my mind inevitably wanders back to the testosterone-soaked days of my adultolescence. See, I would spend hours each day war dialing (known outside of Baton Rouge as "demon dialing") various bulletin boards in order to have vigorous debates with other men about important topics like "gun control" and "abortion" and "whether Ronald Reagan can be held personally responsible for the AIDS epidemic." When our collective intelligence failed to solve the problem of world hunger in less than a month, everyone would get testy and head for the war boards.
"War boards?" you say.
To which I reply: "War boards. Forums whose sole purpose was to cultivate the rhetorical chops of those who frequented it via furious blind invective. Often times wars would descend into festivals of insults in which everyone's mother was transmogrified into someone who was so fat that when she sat around the house, she sat around the house. Some of us tried to elevate the form. I was among them. I preferred to humiliate my opponents by taking statements they had previously made and making them look like asses for mouthing them."
Here is an example—procured from an archive which includes my first foray into the World of War Boarding—of a "challenge" levelled by a chap named "Zith":
Date: 4:46 pm Sat Jun 11, 1992
Subj: Re: Oh, we're just dandy, aren't
I read very little of the post the reference number indicates.
Let ME take control of this situation as is more apropriate, me being better et all.
War for access to modemland.
Dr.Luv's suggestion of MA is perfect.
Five other [judges of the war]? Bishop, he can appreciate it. Loki would be considered biased, Tenedos is fine. That makes three. <just to help you keep up> Laz doesn't like me, and I don't know enough about him to tell wether that would effect his judement of not. Danmietster is a stranger. No strangers.
Two more...hmm...Reverend Beverage. Jack Flash.
Simple. Are you getting this? If these people are willing to put up with this idiocy for the two days it will take for the decisive victory to occur than it is fine.
I give you one chance to backoff before I make you miserable. Think about it.
And when you finally come to and soil your shorts in fear, only then will you realize the breadth of my superiority.
And who needs a fucking topic [as opposed to a pure, unadulterated Festival of Insult] anyway? Whatever you are blabbering about is unimportant. I want to war you, not debate you. Get it? Think before you even reach for the R[eply] key. Turn off your mouth and turn on your brain. If you value anything at all in your life <which can't be much out of modemland> than you will back down, apologize, and then you will be able to sleep at night.
You are on the vurge of making the mistake that could utterly ruin you.
I WAS going to just play around with you and SR etc...but you obviously leave me no choice.
DO YOU WANT TO DIE? When the appointed judges <most of whom don't like me anyway, so I'm starting you off with a handicap> arrive and announce it official you will be nervous, queasy, and you mind will be fogged over and cloudy, not necessarily from lack of confidence, but merely the stakes involved. You will not be able to think straight and you will be struck will fear. This is not because of me at all. simply because you have no experiance in warring for real stakes. You think warring for this board will give you the experiance, and it's only ONE board so why not, eh? Uh-uh, 'fraid not. I won't give you the oportunity. This is MY area and we will abide by MY settings. Or it will not happen. The judges I listed. The stakes I listed. No argument, no deal. And if you don't accept, than shut the fuck up. I'm tired of feable little threats by the likes of you and your associates that are no realizable. Welcome to where it all matters, and where it all is lost. Don't plan on winning. And when you lose, don't plan on ever looking at anything the same again. This isn't just A war, and I am not just A person.
I determine psycological effects on you for years to come. That is that power granted to me. The power to not only blacklist you with one war, but to ensure that you slink and slither through life the way you slithered through modemland to this point. I will cripple your mind. I will then crush you.
It is that simple, but in is simplexity is a complex maze of terror for you. The knowlege that you cannot again back out if you accept, and once lost, you will never have the chance to redeem yourself. No one care about you. No one will greive your loss. Your freinds will quietly think sad thoughts but none are willing to try to avenge you. Not because they do not care, as I do not care, but merely because they will see what became of you as what WILL become of them if they try.
This is the identity of your hell, I hope it is as warm and pleasent for you as it is for me.
Dig the awesome autosig? And how about that spelling? I'd edit it but it'd lose some of its flavor. Anyhow, I replied:
Date: 2:05 am Sun Jun 12, 1992
To : Zith
Subj: War, Debate?
Z> And who needs a fucking topic anyway?
Afraid that if this is anything more than a mud slinging contest you can't
hold your own?
Z> I want to war you, not debate you. Get it?
Afraid that if this is anything more than a mud slinging contest you can't
hold your own?
Funny the way the topic always seems to be avoided with you.
Z> If you value anything at all in your life, which can't be much out of modemland...
Strange, I didn't think that anything outside the war sub affected anything going on inside the war sub. [Like Vegas!] C'est la vie.
And by the way, you're right. I don't have much of a life outside the boards. I have my four friends, and that's all I need. They're all dating other people, so I don't go out much. I read a lot. Shoot me. I go to shows, catch movies, and live a life of solitude that suits me.
In other words, stop throwing your insecurities onto me and stop thinking that I care. I don't have the need, and wouldn't have the need, to advertise what I am off of the boards on the boards.
Z> You are on the vurge of making the mistake that could utterly ruin you.
I'm on the vErge of what? A mistake. You're taking this a little too seriously. There is absolutely nothing you could do to me, and I'll say it again, absolutely nothing you can do to me that hasn't already been done and that I haven't already weathered. So send me your best, I'm waiting, and willing.
Z> DO YOU WANT TO DIE?
Not really. Then again, from someone who's life isn't the boards (as you have so lovingly informed us), where does the concept of death come into this. For death, there must be life, and since there is no life, there is no death, right?
Don't look at me, you said it.
Z> I won't give you the oportunity. This is MY area and we will
Z> abide by MY settings. Or it will not happen. The judges I listed.
You're going to be in for one hell of a mid life crisis with this insecurity you're parading around. A Corvette, a new wife (trade her in for a younger model, or wait, nevermind, someone with your convictions couldn't do that, now could they)...
I think Jung said it best by not saying a damn thing at all. [Young and already pretentious!]
Z> I'm tired of feable little threats by the likes of you and you
Z> associates that are no realizable.
Threats not being lived up to? I don't think I've made a threat yet that I've haven't stood behind. You, on the other hand, have a lot to live up to. The standards you're setting for yourself.
Anyways, back to the contest...
Why resort to this mentality? Why regress in such a fashion that would make us both look like fools. If that's the way you'd like to do it, fine, by all means go ahead, but as a great, if not a slightly off the ball general put it:
'War is a gentlemen's game.'
Patton something or other said that. Also said something about the people who think they can win with sheer brute force, but I don't think that pertains to anything here, does it?
Z> Don't plan on winning.
Ploy to leave the opponent disenchanted, I can assume. Didn't work.
Z> And when you lose, don't plan on ever looking at
Z> anything the same again.
I'd like to know the exact ramifications that you, that's if you, defeat me will haunt me for years to come.
Funny how seriously people whose lives don't revolve around this particular genre of communication take things...
Z> This isn't just A war, and I am not just A person.
Z> I determine psycological effects on you for years to come.
Simply put, bullshit.
There are no long term effects, and you are just a person.
You are nothing more than a person, and everything less than a God.
Z> The power to not only blacklist you with one war...
If you have the power to blacklist the CoSysOp on any board in town, I'd just love to know. It'd help. Or, did you not know that I'm the CoSysOp on many a board that I call? Or is it that you don't call many a board that I call?
Or wait, can you even blacklist me on the board that I run? Can you black list the SysOp? Can you stop the users from calling MY board?
Let me tell you, I'm impressed. Thoroughly.
Z> I will cripple your mind.
According to you, it's too late. I'm for human rights, I read books, I listen to music, sorry, music that isn't the same three chords beaten in some random order, and I'm not a sheep.
You want your, you need your, you want your Mtv.
I AM Generation X. Indifferent, lost, and confused. I've found my own path, and have followed it and will follow it, till death do we part.
I will cripple your mind. Nice to meet you, just call me Mr. Bunny.
Z> Not because they do not care, as I do not care, but merely because
Z> they will see what became of you as what WILL become of them if
Z> they try.
Well, you're more than welcome to war them too.
There's this concept that I don't think you quite grasp. Friends aren't numbers, and the more you have in no way relates to who's better off when who's gone.
There's something solid in solitude. Most men lead lives of quiet desperation. [Look how cute! He can quote Thoreau!]
You, you're calling out for help, and look, here I am.
Z> This is the identity of your hell, I hope it is as warm and pleasent for
Z> you as it is for me.
There is no Hell where I come from.
Zazen is my peace. [Don't look at me. I haven't a clue what I'm talking about.] My Heaven is found in my self, simple as that.
Pretentious? What do you expect of a 14 year old who thought Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale the best book in the History of Everything? (And before anyone asks, I have no idea where that Jung reference came from. I'm sure I'd been ostentatiously reading him at Coffee Call to impress . . . someone or other. But names and dastardly clever ploys escape me. She surely mentioned Jung at some point and I certainly took the bait is all I'm saying.)
I have an entire unformatted archive of the rest of the exchange, but I have no doubt that it's as dull as the above to all those who weren't there and/or part of the scene. My point is simply that there is a pathetically masculine mode of interaction and that it ain't pretty. Fun? Certainly. But it's so painfully overcompensation for the snap of wet towels against unprotected thighs that it's not worth aspiring to. By which I mean, when I think of the gendered nature of the blogosphere, I don't want to claim that anyone can't participate in anything . . . only that no one should want to participate in such Contests of Redirected Insecurities regardless of gender. I've known women who'd have slaughtered all those who dared oppose her on a war board.
But why should she want to? I could probably still do the Bat Dance, but you don't see me doing it, do you? (Granted, that's only because I've drawn the blinds tight, but you see my point.)